Lots to catch up on after a mini vacation and lots of weekend racing, some of which I saw and some of which I didn’t.
– Many people are upset because TSN2 scheduled a recording of the Baltimore IndyCar race at 11 p.m. Sunday night and then didn’t show it. Me, I could care less because I don’t watch anything that’s recorded. I already know who won and the order of finish and I have better things to do with my time. For the record, report and results here
In answer to a query, TSN says the IndyCar race was indeed shown – after tennis, which ran three hours long.
So to all you people who emailed me about this, it’s your fault. Just because you got tired and couldn’t stay awake till 2 or 3 in the morning on Monday is of no consequence. The Indy car race was on TV in the middle of the night and you missed it.
There’s only one race left this season, on Sept. 15. The championship will be decided at California Speedway and although one or two other drivers are still in the mix, either Will Power or Ryan Hunter-Reay will likely be the winner.
But that's not the real question. The one on everybody's lips? Will TSN show it live on Saturday night or at 5 in the morning on Sunday?
Or the following Wednesday . . .
– David Ostella of Maple had his best finish on a street course in his Indy Lights career when he finished fourth at Baltimore.
– When IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed at Las Vegas last October, there was a flurry of talk about better protection for drivers in open-cockpit cars. I suggested at the time that roll cages similar to those used for years on supermodified racing cars (see photo at left) would do the trick.
But then everybody calmed down and the usual excuses started to be heard: a canopy might be damaged in a crash and the driver wouldn’t be able to get out; a cage would interfere with a driver’s vision, etc.
Now, following the huge crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix in which Fernando Alonso came this close to having a car land on his head, the F1 people are suddenly talking about it. For the record, Belgian GP report and results here
Memo to IndyCar, F1, Formula Ford, Star Mazda, Indy Lights and all other open-cockpit sanctioning bodies: stop talking about it and just put them on.
It’s no big deal. Oval track racers – those who pilot supermodifieds, limited supers, sprint cars, midgets, dirt champ cars – have been crawling out of wrecked racers for decades and, to my knowledge, have never been hindered by the existence of a cage.
And those cages have saved countless lives.
– I saw one of the great race drivers in action over the weekend. Otto Sitterly (what a great name, eh?) won the 56th Budweiser International Classic 200 for supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway Sunday and to say he did it in convincing style would be an understatement.
Sitterly, a dairy farmer from Canajoharie, N.Y., won the Classic for the second consecutive year and for the third time in the last four years. Several weeks earlier, he wrapped up his fifth Oswego Speedway supermodified track championship.
He defeated 11-time Indianapolis 500 driver Davey Hamilton, of Boise, Idaho, who finished second, and Dave Gruel, of Fulton, N.Y., who was third. Gary Morton of Stouffville was the top-finishing Canadian in ninth.
Sitterly was a champion modified racer at Utica-Rome Raceway in the 1990s and moved on to Oswego when the small-block supermodified division was created there. Following his progression to the big-block supers, he’s been a consistent winner in that class
His Classic-winning car is owned by John Nicotra of Oswego and Homestead, Fla., who also owns the car that Hamilton drove. It was the second straight year that Nicotra-owned cars finished one-two in the Classic; Sitterly passed Cambridge’s Mike Lichty on the last lap a year ago for the victory then.
As soon as I saw Hamilton after the race, I asked him whether he would consider taking Sitterly to Indy for a one-off in the 500 (Hamilton co-owns a team in the IZOD IndyCar Series with Sam Schmidt) ?
"Oh, the cars are so different it would be like throwing him to the wolves," said Hamilton. "But he is very, very good."
Naturally, I had to ask Sitterly whether he’d be interested in running Indy. "Sure," he said without hesitation. "But I don’t have the money."
I will have more to say about this later in the week.
The Classic was run on Sunday. Saturday night, I witnessed one of the great race-driving performances I’ve seen in my many years of race-watching and reporting.
Ryan Coniam of Denver, Colo., the son of two-time Oswego Classic winner Warren Coniam of Burlington, started on the pole for the 60-lap winged-supermodified ISMA Super Nationals. Veteran Mike Ordway of Pelham, N.H., was outside on the front row in a rocket designed by legendary car builder Clyde Booth of Charlotte, N.C.
At the green, both drivers went flying into Turn One at well over 100 miles an hour. Ordway went down on Coniam, looking to chop him and to take the lead. They touched wheels.
Instinct suggests that when something like this happens, a driver will lift his or her foot off the accelerator. Not Coniam; not Ordway.
Both kept the hammer down, and Coniam flew onto the backstretch with the lead, Ordway right on his tail.
They had a great race but, in the end, Timmy Jedrzejek of Independence, Ohio, was the winner, with Mike Lichty of Cambridge second and Johnny Benson Jr. (yes, that’s NASCAR’s Johnny Benson Jr.) of Cornelius, N.C., third. Coniam was fourth; Ordway, 18th.
– On the way home from Oswego Sunday night, I listened to the NASCAR race on Sirius satellite radio and the announcing team did a great job. I didn’t feel as if I’d missed a thing by not seeing it on television. For the record, report and results here
The last race of the regular season will take place at Richmond next Saturday night. Only the top ten drivers in the standings, plus two "wild card" drivers, will make the playoffs, a.k.a. the Chase for the Championship.
Now, I know NASCAR tries to have a points system that makes sense. But I do not understand how a guy like Martin Truex Jr. can hold down fifth place in the standings and have no wins, six top-five finishes and 14 top-tens when the guy behind him in sixth place has three wins, 10 top-fives and the same number of top tens, 14.
That makes no sense to me.
In fact, it makes no sense to me how a guy who has won three races can be behind a guy who has no wins.
And to carry this to its extreme, I don’t understand how two guys – Truex and Kevin Harvick – who have no wins can make the playoffs and four guys who have actually won races – Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman – likely won’t.
If you win, you’re in – or you should be.
I know NASCAR changed the scoring system a few years ago to put a greater emphasis on winning but they’ll have to take another run at it. Even the drivers will tell you that nobody remembers who finished second, so how come those losers – and all the other losers from third on back – are awarded so many points?
– Christophe Bouchut and Scott Tucker, driving an LMP2 car, won the American le Mans Series race at Baltimore on Saturday. Another LMP2 car, with Luis Diaz and Ricardo Gonzalez aboard, finished second. The first LMP1 car was third, driven by Ryan Dalziel and Alex Papow
– The Canadian Touring Car Series championships were decided at the weekend. Following two races at Calabogie Motorsports Park, Sasha Anis (Hyundai Genesis Coupe) wrapped up the Super Touring class championship, with Benjamin Distaulo (Honda Civic Si) second and Johathan Rashleigh (Hyundai) third.
In Touring Class, Damon Sharpe (Honda Civic Si) is the champion, with Michel Sallenbach (MINI Cooper S JCW) second and Paul Gravel (MINI) third.
In B-Spec, Nick Wittmer (Honda Fit) is the champion, with Simon Dion-Viens (Honda) second and Karl Wittmer (Mazda2) third.
- Finally, big news. Jacques Villeneuve will return to sports car racing in the inaugural City Challenge race through the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan. Somebody tell all the other drivers that they'd better keep their heads up.